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A picture of the plane involved in last year's crash Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

Dubai: A plane crash in Dubai that killed four people last year was caused by wake turbulence from another aircraft, the final report into the incident by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) confirmed on Sunday.

Three Britons, David Phillips, William Blackburn, Christopher Stone and South African Fritz Venter died when the Diamond DA62 light aircraft they were travelling in rolled due to wake turbulence from a Thai Airways Airbus A350-900 and crashed into Mushrif Park on the approach to Dubai Airport during a mission to calibrate terrestrial navigation systems as part of ongoing runway renovations. The plane they were in was owned and operated by UK firm Flight Calibration Services.

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Aerial view of the crash site in Mushrif Park Image Credit: GCAA

Sunday’s final report concluded, “The Air Accident Investigation Sector of the United Arab Emirates determines that the accident was due to an in-flight loss of control during the approach to runway 30L caused by an encounter with wake vortices generated by a preceding Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which was approximately 3.7 nm and 90 seconds ahead on the approach to runway 30R.

“The Investigation identified that the commander’s decision to reduce the self-separation from preceding air traffic during approaches to runway 30R, and wind conditions in which the wake vortices from the approach path to runway 30R drifted across into the approach path to runway 30L, were contributing factors to the accident.

It was also said that, “The operator lacked an effective safety management system, which prevented the identification of operational hazards during calibration flights, in particular calibration flights carried out at airports during times when more than one runway is in operation.

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View of the crash site in Mushrif Park Image Credit: GCAA

“The UK CAA did not exercise effective oversight of the operator. This prevented an informed baseline assessment of operational risk, and resulted in the operator providing commercial aviation services without adequate regulatory involvement.”

As a result, initial investigations issued a prompt safety recommendation on May 23 last year, which stated that “The General Civil Aviation Authority issue a safety alert to all air navigation service providers in the United Arab Emirates and to all operators of light aircraft, to enhance awareness among pilots and air traffic controllers of their separation procedures, particularly under visual flight rules (VFR).”

Calibration flights were allowed to continue, “In a sterile environment, where only other VFR aircraft in a lower or the same wake turbulence category, were permitted to operate.

“A four minute separation was applied to departing and arriving IFR (instrument flight rules) aircraft, with information provided on the aircraft wake turbulence category and a caution of possible wake turbulence.”